The danger here is that philanthropy has given the moneyed class the potential to exert a new pull on journalism. And in a world where the lines between private money and government continue to blur, serious journalism must resist that pull and guard its independence—with business prowess, rigorous cost efficiency, and by spreading wide the donor base.
A.J. Liebling’s famous formulation, “freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one,” has a different ring today. An expensive press is no longer necessary; he who owns the publication has the freedom, something more possible than ever as developments in digital publishing and distribution have removed costs traditionally associated with print journalism.
The only thing left to pay for is the journalism itself. Figuring that out, for ourselves, is the only route to independence. And independence is more important than ever.
(Springtime drinking illustration by Alex Citrin)
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